Review: My Dear Melancholy - The Weeknd

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Anna Kell reviews The Weeknd's new EP: My Dear Melancholy

My Dear Melancholy is the first EP released by The Weeknd, and although it is not lengthy, it is one of Abel Tesfaye's darkest albums, being short but far from sweet. The EP has intensity and heavy production. But with the help of big names like Skrillex, Guy Manuel from Daft-Punk and Kanye's occasional collaborator Gesaffelstein, it's not hard to imagine this EP's sound with a team such as this. We're drawn into his red-carpet, brunette melodrama and $92m net worth – frankly, I know I'm not the only one here for the ride.

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The EP revisits the darker undertones of Tesfaye's acclaimed 2012 release Trilogy. Instead of complimenting it, this EP is slicker. The lack of seedy, drug-fuelled connotations this time draws the focus on the lyrics and, given recent events in his personal life, there's a fine line between an album and a shallow game of Guess Who? - We're left to decipher which song is about who: Bella Hadid or Selena Gomez? But that's what partly makes this EP so tempting.

During his recent Coachella set, he cried mid-song on stage, singing track one of the EP ‘Call Out My Name.' Nearly two million YouTube hits of this show just how much one's personal life can entice – this wasn't a melodramatic gimmick. Emotion from the outwardly cool popstar attracts, and when we get a glimpse of this in their music, it's rare, and it works when we don't expect it to – just imagine what the crowd must've thought. The track's title tells us all we need to know, he is longing for attention, and his emotions let us assume he has not received it. It would be unheard of for The Weeknd to beg for attention in his lyrics.

Ironically, in the previous album ‘Starboy,' the song ‘Attention' reprimands just this: ‘you're only looking for attention, your only problem is you never get enough.' He toys between feeling in control of, or out of sight of a girl in every album, and this EP has demonstrated there can't be an in-between, especially when you're The Weeknd. Tesfaye's vocals are in tune with a rawness that only his own vocal tone can reach. However, don't assume this EP is all wailing with no edge - he is quick to patronise in the defensive track ‘Try Me', filled with riffing, swelling melodies: ‘You're looking grown since the last time I saw you' - as if his pleas in track 1 have knocked him from his pedestal. He's talking about Selena Gomez, who is the muse to 80% of the EP, and it's a definite draw between who has caused the other the most grief.

Amidst all this emotion, he reverts to his old roots in ‘Hurt You,' both in production and lyrically. The track appears to be a little more genuine for twenty seconds, bar the clichéd wailing police sirens, as he sings albeit refreshingly ‘And now I know relationships my enemy so stay away from me.' Instead of the usual cocaine or late-night call lyrics that ‘Starboy' profusely preached – the rolling syncopated beat here drops right on time for the hook, and we are thrown back to ‘Starboy' again. This isn't such a bad thing as admittedly for many; this syncopation is what draws people in, especially to the pop ear.

It's cool, undeniably slick and punchy; he wants to show he's even cooler by flaunting his irresistibility: ‘when you're with him you close your eyes and think of me.' It seems The Weeknd's appeal largely comes from revealing everything about these so-called ‘privileged' girls with ‘privileged lives,' from what they do in bathroom stalls with black American Express cards to every thought in their heads. He sure knows it all - and now we do too.

My Dear Melancholy is short enough to be a pit stop in The Weeknd's musical career but significant enough to be remembered as having the complete, lasting effect of a full studio album. For an EP with a title that ends in a comma, Tesfaye has left us an unfinished note - a strong prelude overall for something more to come. The question of who it will be about lingers from now on, but if its anything like this one, it will be sharp and will radiate aesthetic - but hopefully for his sake, a little less melancholy.



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